Maria Johnson

Maria Johnson

Managing Director/Owner/Licensee

Hi my name is Maria Johnson.  I spent my childhood growing up on a farm with my parents, two brothers and three sisters.

I moved to Wellington after training as a Primary School teacher at Hamilton Teachers College and completing my Bachelor of Education at Waikato University. B.Ed, Dip. Tching Primary. In 2006 I studied full time and gained my Early Childhood qualifications from the New Zealand College of Early Childhood Education.

I have four beautiful boys – Mathew, Joshua, Benjamin and Jacob (twins). I love being with my children and watching them grow and develop as individuals! Being a Mum is the greatest job in the world (even though sometimes it tests our patience)

I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, relaxing in my garden and being creative. When there is any spare time I also like to exercise.

I established Little School in 2002 and since then out organisation has grown to continually meet the demand of our families.

I have been involved with education since 1992 and involved with early childhood education since 2003.  I want to be able to share our knowledge, skills and expertise in quality education – especially within Early Childhood and Leadership within the sector.  So in 2016, Life Learning was established – to help educators and leaders within Early Childhood Education provide quality programmes for children and staff.

I am passionate and ambitious about young children discovering their abilities and providing them with the knowledge, skills and values to make them lifelong learners.  For this to happen children need to have teachers who are educated, passionate and wanting to make a difference in their lives. 

I continually aspire to be a leader in education and thoroughly enjoy this journey.  I am extremely fortunate to work alongside a brilliant team of dedicated teachers at Life Learning and Little School. Together we aspire to be widely recognised leaders in preschool education.

I have also been an executive member of the Early Childhood Council since 2008 and was the President until 2015.  I am currently on the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal – a role where I enjoy being able to give back to our professional community.  I am also the Chair of Life Education in New Zealand and on the New Zealand Entrepreneurs Organisation Board.   I thoroughly enjoy all of these roles and again I am fortunate to work alongside teams of people who are dedicated within business and the education sector.

Awards 2012 – Her Regional Wellington Business Awards – Wellington Business Woman of the year and Wellington Best Small to Medium Business.  Ernst and Young Finalist of the year and Next Magazine Educational Finalist.

Awards 2017 – Finalist Wellington Business Gold Awards. Finalist New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

Jane Jennings

Jane Jennings

Curriculum Co-ordinator

Hi, my name is Jane.  I began working as a teacher at Little School just after it first began in 2003.

I have a Diploma of Teaching in ECE and a Bachelor of Education which I completed at Dunedin College of Education and Otago University in the early 90’s.

From mid 2004-2008 I took a break from Little School and Andrew and I had our two children Sarah and Harry – they are busy little people who bring lots of joy, love and laughter to our house.  Sarah attended Khandallah Little School and Harry went to Kelburn before transferring to Khandallah – so I have and interest and perspective in the schools as a parent and as an educator.

I returned to Little School in 2008 as a release teacher and in 2010 I became part of the Management Team and took on the role of teacher support and curriculum support.

In my spare time I enjoy running, walking, cooking, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Megan Watson

Megan Watson

Operations Manager

Hi my name is Megan. I began working as a Teacher at Little School when it first began in 2003.

I have a Diploma in Teaching Early Childhood which I completed at Whitirea Polytech. I then nannyed for two very special families which have remained a special part of my life and I still enjoy watching the children grow.

I took a break from Little School in 2007 when I had my son Oscar, who is a delight. I returned to Little School in 2009 when I became a member of the Management Team which I really enjoy. My son attended Kelburn Little School and was enriched by this experience.

In my sparetime I enjoy cooking, skiing and spending my time with family and friends.

Claire Russell

Claire Russell

Accounts Manager

Hi, my name is Claire. I grew up in Palmerston North with my parents, sister and two brothers.

I moved to Wellington in 2014 to study at Victoria University, I graduated with a bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and minoring in Geography.

After completing my study, I began a 12-month contract working for a Wellington based community trust. This was a brilliant opportunity and I felt really lucky to have worked alongside such a wonderful group of people.

In my spare time I love yoga, walking in Otari Wilton bush, playing around on the pottery wheel and visiting my family and friends.

Anna Gibb

Anna Gibb


Hey there, my name is Anna. I am a local girl, born and raised in Island Bay, and a younger sister to two brothers.

My eldest brother and his partner welcomed my nephew into the world in 2015 and my niece this year, and I am loving every second of being their aunty. I can’t wait to see how they develop and grow.

I attended Island Bay School, South Wellington Intermediate School, and Wellington East Girls College. I spent the years following college working, as opposed to going to university. After working for the New Zealand Police Association as a Call Centre Operator and Accounts Assistant, I began on a different path, becoming an apprentice for a hair salon. Once I realised hairdressing was not for me, I decided I should study and travel. That lead me to being awarded a scholarship to study Mandarin in Taiwan, an experience which I am extremely grateful for.

I have always enjoyed playing sports and exercising, right now I am a part of a CrossFit gym. I also love spending time with my amazing group of friends and their children.